private Bill

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Private Bill

Legislation that benefits an individual or a locality. Also called special legislation or a private act.

Many state constitutions prohibit the enactment of private bills or acts when a general law could apply. The prohibition of private bills, now more commonly known as special laws, applies to legislation that affects local governments or private individuals. Despite this constitutional language, private bills remain a part of the U.S. legislative process.

The constitutional disfavor of private bills is based on several concerns. The enactment of special legislation undermines the idea that laws apply to all persons in a state. The perception of favoritism reduces the credibility of the legislative process. The reality of special legislation is that the legislature fails to establish responsible and uniform statewide regulation of local government units and creates preferential and prejudicial discrimination between communities. Private bills also use legislative time and energy in small amounts, leaving the legislature less able to deal with general legislative business. Nevertheless, special legislative treatment of special problems is sometimes warranted.

Legislatures can evade the constitutional provisions banning private bills by drafting laws that apply to the entire state, at least on their face. For example, a special bill for one local unit of government or person can be drawn so that it appears to apply to all units or persons meeting specific criteria. The criteria actually limit its applicability to the one community or person the sponsors intend to affect. Population is the most common "bogus" criterion since it is easy to use. Thus, a law that applies only to "a county with a population of more than 50,000 and between 350,000 and 400,000 acres" appears on its face to apply generally to all counties in the state that match the criteria. This type of legislative drafting hides special legislation and makes it appear to be general.

Courts will uphold special legislation if the classifications in the act are "open," meaning that other units of government or individuals will come under the law if at any time they meet the criteria in the law. In the example above, the population of a county given in the law was 50,000. If another county reaches that level of population and has the same amount of acreage, it will fall under the legislation, thus making the classification open. If the class is fixed by the facts as of some point in time, the class is closed, and is stripped of the presumption that it is an honest classification related to a legitimate legislative purpose. The class is held to be descriptive of the target community or person and makes the legislation an invalid private bill.

Legislatures can limit the number of private bills either by examining them more critically or adopting statewide legislation that gives local units adequate powers to solve issues themselves, eliminating the need for private bills.

private Bill

in the constitutional law of the UK, a Bill that affects a private interest specially and is therefore different from a PUBLIC BILL. They are initiated by petition of persons outside Parliament, like local authorities or, in the past, railway companies. The main feature of the special standing orders that govern its passage are that the bill is sent to a select committee that will hear objectors providing they have LOCUS STANDI. See HYBRID BILL.
References in periodicals archive ?
He can't renounce his peerage and can only lose his title by a special act of parliament.
Justice grants two types of monetary awards to political appointees under Schedule C and noncareer Senior Executive Service (SES) status in recognition of overall highlevel performance or a special act or service.
The state legislature passed a Special Act permitting suit to be brought after the expiration of the one-year limitations period.
Last time we had to get a special Act of Parliament to allow us to race in a city centre,' he said.
and became American citizen by special act of Congress.
43 billion lawsuit started with a special act passed by the Legislature in 1995.
The aim of the Orestad Development Corporation (Orestadsselskabet), which was set up under a special Act of Parliament to organise the project, is rather more than just to make another long suburb.
There's scarcely a newspaper in the country that hasn't profiled a local carrier, whether for a special act of courage or simply for longstanding community service.
In addition, John was appointed to three terms of office by a special act of The United States Congress to support the multi-billion dollar business and technology modernization program at the IRS--providing leadership for the key program areas of business continuity, disaster recovery, risk management, cyber security and customer service.
Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, has filed a bill that would require the Legislature to pass a special act approving the bid for the Olympics before any public funds can be expended.
The home secretary said the Directorate of Prosecution of the State will immediately take steps to identify all cases for which charges have been framed under Section 211 of the CrPC or under the Special Act itself against any sitting MLA or MP against the penal sections of various Act enumerated in Sections 8(1), 8(2) and 8(3) of the Representation of People Act, 1951.
Until now a special Act of Parliament was needed for cities to host motor racing - and one was granted to Birmingham between 1986 and 1990 when it hosted the Formula 3000 races.

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